Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Latest on "Double Dipping" in Alabama

Judge Slows Down the Riley Express
The Riley Administration this week had a kink thrown into its apparent plans to help Republicans take over the Alabama Legislature by targeting Democrats who work in the state's two-year college system.

A Montgomery County judge halted implementation of a new Alabama Board of Education policy that forced legislators with jobs in the two-year system to eat up vacation time while carrying out legislative duties.

Judge Johnny Hardwick's order temporarily freezes a policy that by 2010 would force legislators to choose between their two-year jobs and elected offices.

Bradley Byrne, chancellor of the two-year system, recently ordered implementation of the new policy. But Hardwick ordered Byrne to return to the old practice that allowed lawmakers to use flex time while serving in the legislature.

Hardwick reacted angrily when questioned repeatedly by lawyers for Riley and Byrne. The lawyers claimed the board never had an official flex-time policy.

"Something was being done before Mr. Byrne became chancellor," Hardwick said. "You're going to go back to doing it the way it was before this policy was in place. The people (lawmakers) need to know so their constituents won't be disenfranchised and their livelihoods won't be jeopardized."

Is Mark Fuller a Double Dipper?
Alabama Republicans, and the Bush Justice Department, seem terribly concerned about educators (mostly Democrats) who serve in the state legislature.

But are GOPers concerned about federal judges who are double dippers? Evidently not, at least when that federal judge is Bush appointee Mark Fuller, who oversaw the Don Siegelman prosecution.

We know that Fuller receives a handsome salary from the federal government as a U.S. judge. We also know that Fuller rakes in a significant amount from his role as chairman and CEO of Colorado-based Doss Aviation, which relies heavily on contracts from . . . the federal government.

Alice Martin, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, has indicted Alabama legislator Sue Schmitz for apparently splitting her work time between her state teaching job and her legislative role. Somehow, Martin managed to find a federal crime in Schmitz' activities.

But what about Fuller's activities? He seems to split his time between his role as federal judge and his role as federal contractor. Is there a federal crime here? Isn't Mark Fuller every bit the double dipper that some Alabama legislators are alleged to be?

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